US flags suspicious activity at Macau banks, FinCEN data leak reveals

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has detected suspicious activity involving a total of MOP544 million passing through four local banking institutions in Macau, which could be money laundering, a recent data leak from FinCEN revealed.
Over 60 transactions made to or from four local banks between 2000 and 2017 were flagged by the U.S. government agency, which collects and analyzes information about financial transactions to combat domestic and international money laundering, terrorist financing and other financial crimes.
According to the leaked documents, transactions involving over $50 million (MOP400 million) were received by the Bank of China, Banco Nacional Ultramarino, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China-Macau Limited, and the Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation-Macau (HSBC Macau). Around $18 million of transfers were sent through the same banks to overseas institutions, including the U.S. and a dozen other countries.
The reports of the suspicious transactions were found by FinCEN via filings by banks and other financial institutions headed by China Investment Corporation, The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation, and British multinational banking and financial services company Standard Chartered PLC.
The FinCEN document leak was revealed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
According to the ICIJ, the leak only represents a small fraction of all the suspicious transactions in the FinCEN files and there is a probability that both the number of transactions as well as the amount involved is much higher.
The ICIJ noted that the consortium only included cases where the details on file were enough to prove both the origin and recipient banks.
While the data released spans 2000 to 2017, many of the larger and more significant transactions were occurred between 2013 and 2016. One such transaction totaled $.2 million (over MOP129 million) and was transferred by the Bank of China to Swiss multinational investment bank and financial services company UBS Group AG in June 2016.
The ICIJ’s investigation also points out several of the flaws of top international banking corporations, including HSBC and JP Morgan Chase & Co., among others who have allegedly failed to comply with their duty to ensure the legality of banking transactions by some of their clients’ portfolios, which could include links to organized crime.

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